Sunday, August 01, 2010


Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales begins promptly at 10 with the ringing of bells. The priest enters anticlimactically at the end of a great procession; such a slight figure with tiny face and hands he looks a callow sixteen, reminding me of some medieval child saint whose holiness at eight years of age is so profound he is allowed to take Holy Orders at thirteen. By 10:14 the last echoes of the Introit have died away and the Kyrie immediately follows; it is short lasting only three minutes or so and we have the Gloria well under our belts by 10:25. Things are spinning along. The homily is largely on pride and so speaks strength to my weakness. Cloths are laid on the altar rails at the Offeratory in anticipation of Communion, a practice with which I was not familiar. The polyphonous Sanctus and Agnus Dei are breathtaking.

The family sitting in the pew directly in front of me are of three daughters well bespectacled, well mantilla'ed and deadly pious looking the image of their mother but for the colour of their mantillas (white) and the lack of a certain gentle and wistful softness only a few years and motherhood can bring; a fourth daughter, too young for mantilla has beautiful big black doomed eyes with which she moons at me; and finally, the son just on the cusp of toddlerhood. Before Mass his father stroked his eyebrows and his lashes blinked closed and open more and more slowly, finally settling on a closed position. I stare at them and think of ms and I cry and I cry again as I write this.

I saw them again all lined up for confession except the three youngest and blest them (for what that's worth) as I left.

Later the Cardinals beat the Pirates as I eat tapas like the antipasti ms used to make.

On my way to lunch I stop and listen to a shirtless old man with grass shears in a lawn chair (with an empty lawn chair beside him--meant for me?) gripe about Mexicans and city hall until I realize there will be no way to end the conversation except for me just to leave. The conversation began, "Know why I'm cutting this grass here (about 2 sq yards) with these?" I resolve to go back and share a bottle of beer with him and sit and listen, but he's gone.

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I'd be a blackguard and a cad, if I weren't so ineffectual. The less said "About Me", the better.